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Hacksaw Ridge

One of the greatest heroes in American history never fired a bullet. 

Year: 2016 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Mel Gibson 
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey  
An image from Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s thrilling and bloodthirsty come back, echoing Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan and Malick’s The Thin Red Line, intertwines the gore of the Hollywodian battle scenes with Desmond Doss’ incredible story of pacifism, courage and faith.

Desmond (Andrew Garfield) is a Seventh-day Adventist and believes killing is a sin. As World War II breaks out, however, he decides to enroll and serve his country as a combat medic.

Gibson employs many classic cinematic war tropes: the aggressive Sergeant (Vince Vaughan), the tension between the soldiers in the unit, the excruciating circuit training and, ultimately, the horrific warfare sequences on the battlefield. Nevertheless, none of these theatrical conventions appear out of place: the powerful and heartfelt performances delivered by Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughan preserve the film from the danger of cliché, and ensure that the formulaic scenes are not wasted, but that, rather, they present an opportunity for meticulous character development.

Doss’ pacifism, pivot of the film, is in fact reflected in the cinematography itself of the battle scenes: they are chaotic, confused, overflowing with action; the soldiers are clumsy, the deaths are quick and apathetic. The undercurrent clash between national pride, America’s heroism complex and anti-war sentiments inevitably permeates through every segment.

Hacksaw Ridge, with its stellar ensemble cast, award-winning post production and the exciting return of a great director, succeeds at capturing the moral conflict that war entails, while still providing its viewers a thrilling and profoundly gratifying experience.

Marta Meazza

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Screenings of this film:

2016/2017 Summer Term (digital)